KP Education Systems is proud to sponsor award-winning chef Jeff Henderson as keynote speaker at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) 2009 Conference in Nashville. "Chef Jeff" Henderson is a best selling author and TV personality. His memoir, Cooked (2007), became a New York Times bestseller, and his reality show, "The Chef Jeff Project," in which he provides six at-risk youth an opportunity to train for a culinary career, airs on the Food Network.
Growing up in Southern California, Chef Jeff had his own experience as an at-risk youth . To escape poverty, he turned to drugs and was running a large-scale cocaine operation by the time he was 19. Although Henderson's drug operation was quite lucrative, it eventually led to his arrest and incarceration at age 24, and he spent almost a decade in federal prison. While in prison, he discovered his passion for cooking during kitchen duties, and determined to change his life. Once out of prison, he channeled the same intense ambition that had nearly ruined his life into the cooking skills that earned him the top chef title in some of the best kitchens in the country.
Henderson started his professional career cooking at many influential restaurants, including Gadsy’s, L’Escale, the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Marina Del Rey, Zing and The Good Bar. In 2000, Henderson continued his rise, making history in Las Vegas as the first African-American Chef de Cuisine at Caesar's Palace. In 2001, the American Food and Wine Tasting Federation named Henderson “Las Vegas Chef of the Year.” He has since gone on to become the executive chef at the Bellagio, another first for an African American. Henderson has been honored as one of the top African-American chefs by Black Enterprise magazine. Since that time he has started a successful catering company called Posh Urban Cuisine, which is the training ground for the young participants in "The Chef Jeff Project."
Chef Jeff Henderson’s story will not only inspire career and technical educators to keep challenging their students to succeed, but it will also reinforce the importance of career and technical education in our schools.Chef Jeff's mistakes and accomplishments illustrate how learning opportunities, or lack of them, can impact a life. His experience embodies our philosophy at KP Education Systems that career skills education is the key to unlimited opportunities for all individuals regardless of background, and that is why we endeavor to assist educators in giving students superior instruction using the most up-to-date technology.